The PCHA music question at hand: You can only listen to music from one artist for the rest of your life, but it can only be music that hasn’t been released yet. Anything this artist will appear on in the future counts, though — guest appearances, new bands in which they start, etc. Nothing from the back catalog is allowed.
So a few thoughts before we get into it:
1) You want someone you have faith will be around for a good long while, so artists of a certain age and bands who could conceivably break up soon are bad ideas.
2) Solo artists are safer than bands, because again — bands break up. You don’t want to bet your remaining life’s entertainment on Japandroids, only to see them split before ever releasing another album.
3) Prolific is ideal. Life is gonna get pretty boring with only one artist to listen to, so the more new music, the better. Ryan Adams>Stone Roses, in other words.
4) Diverse and eclectic get bonus points. I’d rather hear new sounds every couple years than the same old thing (however good) repeated album after album. Let’s call this the Ramones Corollary.
118. Wheel of Fortune
117. Rock and roller cola wars
116. Hula hoops
115. Chubby Checker
114. Walter Winchell
112. Edsel is a no-go
111. Johnnie Ray
110. The King and I
109. South Pacific
107. Bernie Goetz
I hate music. What is it worth?
Those are the first lines of Superchunk’s “Me & You & Jackie Mittoo,” which Mac McCaughan performed in an excellent solo set at Cheer Up Charlie’s last week, and that’s I question I ask myself a lot at South by Southwest: what is it worth?
Is it worth the crowds, the lines, the traffic, the douchebags, the mud, the aching feet, the hangovers, the waiting around, the sound problems, more douchebags, the fatigue, the shitty bands playing between the good ones, and the complete withdrawal of any semblance of a normal life for a week? Still? Even approaching 40?
Let’s find out together, because here we are again. My fourth trip to SXSW, and my first one holding a music badge (possibly making me one of those aforementioned douchebags),has come and gone. Take a seat while I pull out my slide projector and show you motherfuckers some vacation photos. Breathe it in. Enjoy it. Just as “Me & You & Jackie Mittoo” is ultimately a love song to music, so is my annual sojourn to Austin my chance to re-establish how much I love music.
This year’s crew: me, some family, some lawyers, some social workers. And some dude with a giant glowstick that wanted to hang out with us for an entire Run the Jewels show. And some girl who handed me a full vodka and ginger ale at a show, then spent about ten minutes convincing me it wasn’t roofied (I wasn’t worried). And some dude who actually tried to network with me at a show by asking legitimate questions about my work. Oh, very young — though your dreams may toss and turn you now/They will vanish away like your daddy’s best jeans.
The Dilemma: Is this the year I officially turned into Rolling Stone? Am I David Fricke now? Because most of the music I really liked this year was from established acts. A couple legit old-timers, yes, but also indie/alternative bands with multiple albums under their belt that appeared to be on the downswing. In addition to those listed below, I enjoyed albums from the Old 97s, Jenny Lewis, The Both (Ted Leo and Aimee Mann), Ryan Adams, and others.
The Dilemma, ca. 2014
This morning, when someone asked me if I had heard about Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s break-up, I made a noise that I can only describe as, “Vince McMahon orgasming at a body-building competition.”
As the overrated Bob Dylan once sang, “things have changed.” It’s been three years since we’ve been able to have a man on the ground at South by Southwest, those Elysian Fields for music fans, that Bermuda Triangle for up-and-coming bands, that irresistible siren song for hipsters and corporate douchebags the world over. And for me.
In the 36 months since I last avoided 6th Street, I’ve had a kid and I’ve gotten 36 months older. That’s 36 months further away from my prime. 36 months further removed from my body being able to adequately process a hangover. 36 more months from the time I actually knew what the fuck the kids were listening to.
So it was not without some trepidation that I de-planed on Sunday, ready and not ready for a full week of music, alcohol, sleep deprivation and the worst piercings known to man. How badly would I feel my age? Am I getting too old for this shit?
Well, after 47 sets of live music, 40 different artists and 16 different venues (not including bands playing on front lawns of random houses or rappers standing on parked cars or rapping out the windows of moving vans), I can report that I am definitely not too old for this. Because it’s still fucking awesome, no matter the toll it takes on my organs, bones and brain.
This year, I’m joined once again by a Musky Canadian, two blood relatives, and a shit-ton of fucking lawyers, of all things. Full 2014 SXSW rundown, coming right up.
“…and in the center there is a hot, soft light”
The Oscars are over, so now we can FINALLY lift the PCHA embargo on discussing the best films of 2013.
jk, you guys.
Actually, I sent David Simon Cowell my year-end lists a while back so we could do a joint post. But here’s the thing about DSC: he’s a perfectionist. He’s been holed up in his writing den for months now, writing and re-writing and editing and re-editing and vising and revising his lists and responses. He works so hard on his posts — he feels his responsibility to Pop Culture Has AIDS so deeply — that he sometimes gets lost in the writing process. He demands that every word, every transition, every comma services not only the post but the mission of PCHA as a whole. It’s his blessing and his curse.
As such, we are moving on without him. The best music, TV and films of 2013, according to me and me only, coming right up.